Wetzel’s Riverfront Prepares for Flooding
Residents along the Ohio River in Wetzel County have been anxiously keeping their eyes to the weather radar, as rains are expected Saturday and Sunday.
As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service measured the Ohio River at Hannibal Lock and Dam at 26.1 feet. However, forecasted rains are expected to bring the river to flood stage, at 35 feet, by Feb. 26, 7 p.m. This prediction is a decrease from the 38 feet crest that was predicted earlier in the week. However, a 35 feet crest would still bring floodwater to North Main Street near Virginia Street.
The anticipated flooding would occur approximately one week after rain and snow melt caused bloated creeks and streams to spill out of their banks, along with subsequent river flooding. On Feb. 19, the Ohio River at Hannibal Lock and Dam crested at 35.61 feet; this is above flood stage. Riverfront residents reported water in the lowest levels of their homes, while Paden City, Sistersville, and New Martinsville’s parks all took in floodwater. Park officials reported extensive clean-up necessary in the future.
Meanwhile, residents hope for the best, but prepare for the worst this weekend.
On Friday, Feb. 23, County Commission President Larry Lemon said the county was moving its belongings out of the lower levels of its buildings. Items such as chairs could be spotted on the porch of the county commission office, located near the courthouse.
The Wetzel County Clerk, Assessor, and Sheriff’s Tax Office closed on Saturday due to the preparations for impending river flooding. A statement from the Wetzel County Assessor’s Office said this was for the “safety of the public and protection of Wetzel County Records.”
The statement from the office noted that the courthouse offices could be closed on Monday, Feb. 26, if the river crests as predicted.
As to other closures, the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce canceled a Lunch and Learn session, slated for Tuesday, Feb. 27. The event, titled “Media: Past, President, and Future,” has been rescheduled for March 6, noon, at West Virginia Northern Community College’s New Martinsville Campus, Room 110.
Also, the Ebert Brothers Family and Friends has rescheduled their show that was set for Saturday, March 3. The show will, instead, be held March 17.
The shows are always held on Main Street’s Lincoln Theater. However, the theater required extensive flood preparation, including removal of seats. It was not anticipated that the theater would be ready for the show on March 3.
In another matter, individuals have been turning to their friends and neighbors to offer help prior to the anticipated flooding this weekend.
The Magnolia High School boys soccer team was praised for their offers of help to area businesses and residents, including Open Door Ministries food bank.
Team member Matthew Morgan said he was pleased “to get out with the locals and my fellow teammates to help prepare for the flood coming this week.”